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Preserve CUs ability to serve WOCCU tells G8 meeting
MADISON, Wis. (12/6/07)--Better access to payment and settlement systems, appropriate levels of regulation, and continued tax-exempt status critical to helping credit unions worldwide effectively serve their members--were the recommendations the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) made to ministers of finance for the G8 nations at last week’s outreach meeting on remittances in Berlin.
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions Dave Grace, vice president of association services, addresses the G8 ministries of finance in Berlin, Germany last week.
WOCCU’s experience also shows that increasing remittances between countries have become a critical factor in global economic development, said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of Association Services, to an assembled audience of 80 attendees. The meeting included delegations from the G8 nations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and the U.S. Representatives from the European Commission, as well as other countries, international organizations, the private sector, civil society, and academia also participated. As a participant in “Reaching Out to the Unbanked,” a panel discussion featuring representatives of international microfinance organizations, Grace shared ways to broaden access to financial services, including improved access to remittances as one strategy to reach populations with limited or no financial resources.
Click to view larger image The official boardroom of Bundesministerium der Finanzen (German Ministry of Finance) hosted the G8 participants for a two-day meeting focused on increasing global remittance flows held in Berlin, Germany last week.
Physical, financial and environmental barriers still block some of the world’s population from financial services access. Surmounting those barriers may involve policy and procedure strengthening or changes at national and even local levels, he said. “Credit unions require direct access to national payment/settlement systems, card networks and deposit insurance programs in all markets in order to serve members,” Grace said. “Prudential and proportional regulatory supervision of credit unions also is critical to assuring a safe and sound operational environment. We encourage retention of tax-exempt status for financial co-ops to ensure that they can continue to serve the poor and reach unbanked populations.” During the two-day meeting, representatives from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Western Union, Citibank and others, led six panel discussions on topics including the recent trends and development impact of remittances. The meeting accomplished two main objectives, Grace said. Participants sought to revisit and assess the progress of measures to facilitate remittance flows agreed upon at the Sea Island (Georgia) Summit hosted by President Bush in 2004. During this meeting, the G8 launched its Global Remittance Initiative as part of the larger Global Poverty Action Plan.
Click to view larger image Representing the World Council of Credit Unions, Dave Grace (center) speaks on a panel whose topic was “Reaching out to the Unbanked” at the G8 meeting on Remittances in Berlin, Germany last week. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The Berlin meeting also served as a forum to initiate new dialogue and to promote other potential measures for facilitating remittance flows. As a result of the meeting, participants developed seven recommendations for the G8 countries which addressed challenges, policy and regulation issues of further improving global remittances flows. Remittances have grown to more than US$240 billion a year in 2006--two and half times more than the total annual aid paid from developed to developing countries, and two-thirds the amount of global foreign direct investment. In addition to this latest meeting with the G8, WOCCU has also testified before the U.S. Congress and was quoted in the London Financial Times on remittances in August 2007.
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